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Why Are We Not Giving to the Japan Disaster?

            We’ve all seen the pictures of the huge waves engulfing Japan, the fires and families wandering up the streets with nothing but plastic bags.  But in truth, I wonder if the biggest news is the potential damage from the nuclear reactors.


            Why has the struggle of this nation failed to grip our conscience?  Consider Haiti:


            –two days after the disaster, Americans had texted more than $5 million in   donations to the Red Cross 


            –in five days, more than $92 million had been given to the same agency


            –Hollywood got into the act and just 10 days after the fact raised $57 million            in a telethon


There’s a lot more that could be said about the outpouring of relief to Haiti, but you get the idea.


            On the other hand, Japan has not prompted such an outpouring.  Hollywood is having no telethon.  The only significant Hollywood contribution has been from Sandra Bullock.


            The newswires tell us that generally people don’t feel sympathy for Japan.  They are an able bodied nation who can fend for themselves.  And where they cannot, there is a belief that the Japanese government will step in (notwithstanding that Japan has one of the highest debt to GDP ratios of any country in the world).


            So here’s the question:  does our generosity depend on our view of need?  Or does our generosity start with compassion?  Are we less moved to give because we think there is a government lifeline?


            I wonder if in the days to come, and when more disasters come, if we’ll find that our generosity remains framed in this view.

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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